Isothiocyanate-rich Moringa oleifera extract reduces weight gain, insulin resistance, and hepatic gluconeogenesis in mice

Mol Nutr Food Res. 2015 Jun;59(6):1013-24. doi: 10.1002/mnfr.201400679. Epub 2015 Apr 27.


Scope: Moringa oleifera (moringa) is tropical plant traditionally used as an antidiabetic food. It produces structurally unique and chemically stable moringa isothiocyanates (MICs) that were evaluated for their therapeutic use in vivo.

Methods and results: C57BL/6L mice fed very high fat diet (VHFD) supplemented with 5% moringa concentrate (MC, delivering 66 mg/kg/d of MICs) accumulated fat mass, had improved glucose tolerance and insulin signaling, and did not develop fatty liver disease compared to VHFD-fed mice. MC-fed group also had reduced plasma insulin, leptin, resistin, cholesterol, IL-1β, TNFα, and lower hepatic glucose-6-phosphatase (G6P) expression. In hepatoma cells, MC and MICs at low micromolar concentrations inhibited gluconeogenesis and G6P expression. MICs and MC effects on lipolysis in vitro and on thermogenic and lipolytic genes in adipose tissue in vivo argued these are not likely primary targets for the anti-obesity and anti-diabetic effects observed.

Conclusion: Data suggest that MICs are the main anti-obesity and anti-diabetic bioactives of MC, and that they exert their effects by inhibiting rate-limiting steps in liver gluconeogenesis resulting in direct or indirect increase in insulin signaling and sensitivity. These conclusions suggest that MC may be an effective dietary food for the prevention and treatment of obesity and type 2 diabetes.

Keywords: Diabetes; Insulin resistance; Isothiocyanates; Moringa oleifera; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / drug effects
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism
  • Animals
  • Anti-Obesity Agents / pharmacology*
  • Body Composition
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diet, High-Fat
  • Fatty Liver / prevention & control
  • Gluconeogenesis / drug effects*
  • Glucose-6-Phosphatase / blood
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / pharmacology
  • Insulin / blood
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Interleukin-1beta / blood
  • Isothiocyanates / pharmacology*
  • Leptin / blood
  • Liver / drug effects
  • Liver / metabolism
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Moringa oleifera / chemistry*
  • Obesity / drug therapy
  • Plant Extracts / pharmacology
  • Resistin / blood
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / blood
  • Weight Gain / drug effects*


  • Anti-Obesity Agents
  • Hypoglycemic Agents
  • Insulin
  • Interleukin-1beta
  • Isothiocyanates
  • Leptin
  • Plant Extracts
  • Resistin
  • Retn protein, mouse
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • isothiocyanic acid
  • Cholesterol
  • Glucose-6-Phosphatase